Nicola Bulley: Inquest opens into tragic death of mother-of-two after body found in River Wyre

A two-day inquest is to be held into the death of Nicola Bulley at County Hall in Preston.
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The mother-of-two’s body was found in the River Wyre on February 19, three weeks after she went missing in St Michael’s on Wyre.

Her disappearance garnered almost unprecedented media and public scrutiny, with more answers about exactly what happened to the 45-year-old from Inskip expected during the two-day hearing on June 26 and 27.

What happened to Nicola Bulley?

Nicola BulleyNicola Bulley
Nicola Bulley
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The mother-of-two vanished on January 27 while walking her dog along the River Wyre after dropping her daughters, aged six and nine, at school, sparking a huge search operation and intense media and public interest.

Her body was found in the river 23 days after she went missing, around a mile farther downstream from the bench on February 19.

In a statement following her death, Nicola’s family said: “We will never be able to comprehend what Nikki had gone through in her last moments and that will never leave us.

“We will never forget Nikki, how could we, she was the centre of our world, she was the one who made our lives so special and nothing will cast a shadow over that.

Preston Coroner's CourtPreston Coroner's Court
Preston Coroner's Court
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“Finally, Nikki, you are no longer a missing person, you have been found, we can let you rest now.

“We love you, always have and always will, we’ll take it from here.”

Why were police divers seen back in the River Wyre in April?

Police divers were spotted in the River Wyre on April 4 and a brief clip was uploaded to YouTube, prompting speculation about the activity on social media.

Dr James Adele said: “Speculation as to the role and purpose of officers acting on my instructions is unhelpful in the resolution of this inquest.”

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A Lancashire police spokesman said: “There has been misinformed speculation over the past few days relating to police activity in the River Wyre.

“As previously stated, police divers were acting under instruction of HM Senior Coroner and had been asked to assess the riverbanks in the vicinity of where Nicola Bulley went missing.

“They had not been tasked either to perform any further searches within the river or along the banks or to locate any articles. This activity is to assist with the coronial process.”

When is Nicola Bulley’s inquest being held?

A two-day hearing will take place at County Hall in Preston on June 26 and 27. Around 100 people are expected to attend including family, friends, expert witnesses and the media.

What happened at the opening of Nicola Bulley’s inquest?

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When the inquest was opened and adjourned in February, Dr James Adeley, Lancashire’s Senior Coroner, said a hospital consultant had identified her body from dental records provided by Nicola’s surgery in Great Eccleston.

Arrangements were also made for the hearing in June, with the intervening four months allowing for the facts of the case to be established and for experts who will be used to “finalise their findings”.

What is the aim of Nicola Bulley’s inquest?

Inquests set out to answer four key questions. Who the deceased was, when and where they died, the medical cause of their death and how they came by their death. The focus is usually on the final question. Inquest hearings are based entirely around facts and do not deal with blame or responsibility. They are important to establish answers for bereaved families and can also serve to highlight lessons that need to be learned in future cases.

What outcomes could be reached at Nicola Bulley’s inquest?

In terms of the ‘how a person came by their death’ question, coroners can give a conclusion. These are often also described as a ‘verdict’ and can include labels such as ‘natural causes’ or ‘accidental death’. Coroners do not however have to use them and can create new ones or simply write a narrative of the facts of the case.